One of the biggest mistakes manufacturers make in their attempts to grow their brand is to not pay close attention to what sellers are doing on ecommerce.
You might have great third-party partners distributing your product, but without a vigilant eye and rigorous policies in place, any third-party distributor can (and likely will) hurt your brand right under your nose.
The best way to stay in control and ensure your brand is protected on ecommerce is via MAP compliance.
MAP stands for minimum advertised price (not to be confused with MSRP). It’s the lowest recommended price that a distributor can advertise a product for without facing penalties from the manufacturer (“recommended” is the key word here—manufacturers can only recommend a minimum advertising price, not fix their prices). Distributors can sell a product at a price below MAP, but when a MAP policy is in place, they cannot advertise that product at a below-MAP price.
MAP compliance is a de facto method for manufacturers to enforce their MAP policy and ensure that their third-party sellers are playing by the rules. When a brand is MAP compliant, it means they’re following your MAP recommendations and not dropping their prices too low.
Making sure your sellers are MAP compliant is one of the best ways to ensure your brand is protected online, because it ultimately prevents bad players from seizing control and mucking up your brand’s growth and reputation.
Let’s say you have a seller who chooses to list your product online far below your standard pricing. Without MAP compliance, they have no incentives to play by your rules and you have no control or protection from the consequences. When your products are being listed too low by an unauthorized seller, it becomes hard to regain control.
Sadly, what happens on Amazon doesn’t stay on Amazon. Once a seller drops the price of a product, it impacts the sale of that product across your entire omni-channel strategy. Customers will purchase your product at the lowest price they can find, hurting your sellers who are staying compliant with your price policy.
Customers go into brick-and-mortar retail locations where your product is being sold only to showroom, or look at the product in-store, but buy it from another retailer online for a lower price.
When the price of a product has dropped online, other sellers are forced to drop their prices in an attempt to compete. Without MAP compliance, this cycle continues until the value of your product and the way your brand is perceived by customers is significantly diminished.
In short, lack of MAP compliance is like giving sellers the green light to harm your ecommerce brand and your business relationships.
When your sellers are forced to lower their prices to compete online, it can dig into their margins and really hurt them. Some of your sellers won’t be able to compete, and they may not want to distribute your products as a result. After all, if you allow price erosion to happen and don’t step in to stop it, they lose their safety net and control, too.
Maintaining MAP compliance keeps trust between you and your buyers/resellers. It keeps your ecommerce ecosystem healthy. Your sellers know that you’re looking out for them by ensuring other sellers don’t erode pricing, and you know that there are protections and incentives in place to prevent price erosion from harming your brand.
The sooner you get your MAP compliance in place, the easier it will be to maintain it long term. But how do you start?
The first step is to assess your distribution. Are you selling your product through a few vendors? Or is your distribution so wide that it makes it difficult to keep track of everyone?
When it comes to maintaining control online, wide distribution is not your friend. The most effective strategy is to narrow your distribution—even if it means kicking out a few long-time vendors who shirk the rules—and choose quality partners who are as protective of your brand as you are.
Even with limited distribution, unauthorized sellers can get their hands on your product and sell it for cheap online. Monitoring platforms with technology that allows you to see where leaks in your distribution are happening is another way to maintain MAP compliance. If you can see it happening, you can stop it from happening.
Most important to the MAP compliance equation is actually having an effective MAP policy. Get the help of an antitrust legal council that can help your brand build a careful, clear, and effective MAP policy that tells brands exactly what you expect from them and that can be enforced across all channels.
At Pattern, we help you protect your brand by identifying leaky spots in your distribution and bad sellers. Our specialized Predict software allows us to track authorized and unauthorized sellers as well as pricing across the marketplace so you can maintain control of your brand. We also scrape critical data you can use to capitalize on the right keywords and ad strategies so your brand isn't just protected, it's continuing to grow online.
Need a reliable 3P partner in the marketplace? We can help you with that, too.
To learn more, contact us today.
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Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.
In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.
From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.
According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.
From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.
It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.
A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.
Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.
The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)
Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.
Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.
Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.
Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.